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llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I've got to get IN on this prompt!

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llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


IN with a because apparently I suck at time management these days...

Also, critter me please.

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


The Long-Winded Shortness of Breath
Word Count: 372

We can hardly breathe.

The whir of machines never stop. Pumping, pumping, pumping nutrients into and out of our systems, inflating us like balloons and then squeezing us dry again. Our voices squeak. They crackle, out from our pores like the laughter of… We don’t hear sounds. We pulsate, vibrate, out from ourselves and onto one another. Love is a soft, steady hum, anger is an artery bound to burst. We are covered in arteries, tiny, little leaf-life veins, a million fingers sprawled on the surface of our chests as we lay stacked on one another, never grasping anything.

We pity you.

You who pluck and pull us apart, from one another, from ourselves. You who drag your clawed tentacles across our grooved backs as we cling to the planet that bore us. Do you know how it feels, you who have bones and blood and guts… Do you know how it feels to be gored open? You peel our spines, weave them together, like our broken bodies somehow give you strength.

We have feelings, too.

Maybe not like you, not sick and twisted and useless and wasteful. No, we don’t aim to please. We don’t cry or bleed, but we make love to ourselves. We feel the cells of our bodies, nimble and strong, reproducing, growing, expanding out into ourselves. We don’t need you. We don’t need each other. We are self-sufficient, self-sustaining. We, meek, mild and thoughtless are superior.

You hate us.

You who strive to prove your worth, to band and expand and become something. How tall you are. How noble. How soft and sweet the words you whisper are to one another. How swift the cords you cut dissolve between your calloused hands. So you tread us, you consume us, you use us, you disregard us.

But you’ll never be able to be us.

You’ll never be able to be alone, truly alone in the universe. You’ll never be content to not gaze upon a starry night. To not have eyes to see. You’re so obsessed with being noticed. You are nothing. And we are everything. Tucked in tight within ourselves. We listen to the movements of time, the ballads of existence.

Those who cannot hear sleep soundly.

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Ready to get lyINg. :p

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Coping Well
Word Count: 856

It’s nearly 3am and cold. I can’t decide what smarts more, the pain in my fingers as I type this or the deep chill that has set into the tip of my nose. I’ve found though I am right handed, my fingers on that side are habitually the first to go numb. When I rub my hands together to warm them, the left recoils instantly, unwilling to sacrifice its own heat for its companion. Maybe hands aren’t companions. Maybe hands are enemies from birth or from the first moment an infant chooses one over the other to hold a fork. Maybe this is how the other hand gets back at the favored. Maybe heat regulation has something to do with rejection.

When I first rejected his plans I thought I was justified. They were ill-conceived, stupid, impulsive. How did he think he would survive the desert heat of Burning Man? Or the winds built up in valleys and snow covered grounds of Desert Hearts? He, who would regulate the temperature control in our studio, never letting the heat creep above a mild 75 nor drop into the slight chill zone of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I shushed him. Reminded him of how frail, how fragile he was. I tucked him into bed to dream impossible dreams and I fell asleep contentedly in control beside him.

I never had trouble sleeping, but now the bed is cold and empty and I have been rejected. I have been pushed from our room, from our life, like an unwanted dog cowering into the comfortless street by cruel circumstance. The room I rent is small, cramped and shared. My roommates, to whom I seldom speak, laugh loudly and blow smoke rings across the living room. I sit at my desk, cold, my back to them, and try to remember. I watch the fan blades that never tire spin through the haze as my mind circles itself, trying to catch wind of what went wrong.

I try to remember why I wanted, so desperately, for him to curb his ambitions. I scroll through old conversations, my eyes drawn to the passages where I degraded his dreams, reducing them to implausible impossibilities. My eyes flicker over the words, I hate you. They do not linger long enough for me to note who wrote them. Does it matter? With a cat clawing up my leg to nuzzle onto my lap I feel the sharp nails of his hopeless coffin digging into my flesh. Why did I paralyze him? Why did I clip his wings?

I have 659 pictures saved of him on my phone and none of them look inherently happy. I try to remember if any of them captured genuine expression, but the smiles we shared seem fake. The atmosphere was real though, that I can remember. The faces of strangers, a blur of arms covered in kandi, half upraised, legs in motion, neon moments of communal expression. I see the streams of light in the starless sky, strobing, pulsating with the beat. They’re bright, like we used to be when we were still building, moments from the drop in my heart, when everything began to fade away.

I smell his pillow. The one we traveled with, took into hotels even though they always provide them. This one is small, flat, and gray. It is covered in drool and sweat. I know it’s disgusting, but it reminds me of when we kissed our way into the New Year, as the DJ dropped the song he’d called in the car on the way there. He was always right about everything. I wrapped my sweat covered arms around his neck and told him it was a lucky guess. I thought he would always be lucky.

When the car crashed, his neck snapped. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I took too much Molly in the parking lot before the show. Maybe I checked my phone. Maybe I changed the station on Pandora. Maybe I was laughing, or crying, or…

The therapist I see on Thursdays when I have the motivation to go tells me that grief contorts the memory. She says it takes time for loved ones to heal, to begin to remember things as they actually were, not as we would like them to have been. I think that’s bullshit. Rationally, I know there was nothing I could have done, but…

Every night I listen to the voicemail. The choked sobs of our friend on the other line, the line I couldn’t bother to pick up sitting on my mom’s couch, mindlessly watching an 11 year old pipe a cake on Kid’s Baking Championship. I listen to her crying and begging me to tell her what to do. I listen to her begging me to save him.

He’s not breathing. Oh, God. He’s not breathing. Where are you?

I decide a car crash is impractical. Delete the file. I flex my fingers to get the blood circulating. Maybe I’ll drown him in under 1,000 words today. The therapist says it's good to set goals. The therapist says I’m coping well.

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


IN

And thanks for the crit. =^.^=

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER



IN with a for not posting last week.

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Hey guys... It's been awhile, but I'm IN this week.

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Very Fine People
Word Count: 1742


It didn’t take long for the homeless people of Fresno to gather in the shady shadows of the trees in Woodward Park. It’s difficult to say who was the first to return, but there were several plots of grass so compressed from bodies curled, too stiff to move in the night, that the blades grew flat. One woman, younger than the crow’s-feet which framed her clear green eyes would suggest, stroked the twice stitched glove of her right hand over her dog’s head, pausing every few seconds to drag her jagged nails behind his ears. Her eyesight was poor in the early morning light, but she could make out the figures of several new arrivals, lugging their belongings over the hill that bordered Yosemite Freeway. She wondered how much traffic there would be before noon.

The new arrivals always came with the cans they’d collected, but couldn’t cash in. It happened slowly, one recycling center closing in the north of the county, a week later the south. But when they shut down the heart of Fresno the people had nowhere left to go. They’re ruining our quality of life. That was what the city council claimed, bold enough to print their words and circulate them throughout the county. Their disgust invigorated the working-class citizens, too disgruntled to reassess the true cause of their suffering. They rallied together to drive the homeless out of the urban distract, tossing half drank bottles of pop at their receding backs. When I look around I don’t want to see trash.

But they didn’t see trash. They saw criminals. A childish fear of boogie-men inspired by the gentle clinking of aluminum in abandoned allies demanded an ordinance. A law. Not by the people, not for the people, but by the corrupted city council against the already disenfranchised homeless population. Without discussion, without debate, the verdict was passed, deafeningly final. We don’t want them here.

And so, they came to the park. A park some remembered sleeping in before it was criminalized. A part with bathrooms and running water and trash cans and benches and lots of places to rest. A park where some had watched and others heard Shakespeare performed, monologues of centuries old suffering carried on the heated currents of summer nights. Those were the best nights, when park rangers with misplaced airs of authority could not make them leave, could not refuse them the courtesy of plastic white chairs. Amateur actors shook their hands after, thanked them for being there.

But it was late January and cold. The soldiers huddled together, forming alliances over a similar taste in rations and whose dogs could manage to get along. The woman stopped petting her dog, a mangy Shepard mutt with unruly tuffs of white amid his mostly matted black coat, and shaded her eyes, squinting into the distance. The new arrivals were closer now and she could distinguish better between their forms. One was a man of average height who appeared to have bandoliers of crushed cans slung like sashes over alternating shoulders. She made a mental note to ask him if he had a screw driver.

One of the people in her primary party had been asking the camp for a flat head since the previous night. The young tinker had been fashioning belts out of the crushed cans with twine he’d found behind the maintenance shed by North Friant Road. Early in the night before his inexperience showed as he forced his screw driver through a particularly defiant bit of aluminum with enough strength to snap the tool in two on the metal trash can on which he worked. He shrugged, pushed the shards into the can and reassured her he would find another to continue the work.

The second figure was petite, probably a woman, but the slight frame and the shaggy shoulder length hair made it difficult to say for certain. She appeared to be wearing a trash bag with the plastic straps separated to rest over each should like a backpack. It bulged in various places and threatened to tear. The couple appeared to stop at the stream which cut through the park to rinse off, the smaller of the two dropping her cans onto the river bank beside her boots and wading knee deep into the water. Satisfied with her observation of the newcomers, the unobserved scout wiped the sweat from her eyebrows and brushed her thin fingers through her prematurely greying hair. Her dog leaned back against her calves, contorting his body to alternate between scratching and biting the fur above his tail.

The green-eyed woman’s name was unimportant, and unknown to many, but as she limped down the hill through their makeshift encampment all the soldiers she passed nodded and waited to continue their conversations until she had passed beyond earshot. They had all heard the story of how she had chained herself to the compressor at the final recycling center. Those who had stood beside her and then dispersed when the police arrived, threatening forced, spoke in hushed whispers, and commented on the way her eyes shown. The way the sweat ran into them and still she stared, her teeth white and straight, gritted against the government goons who tried to pull her free. She kicked them, swearing, her pale pink Converse connecting over and over with their shins, ankles, calves. Finally, they struck back against the girl, small and insignificant, covering her sweat drenched tank top in fresh blood from the gash in her lip where knuckles had beat them against her canines. Another connected with her knee, pushing the muscles in her thigh back into the sharp teeth on the compressor’s lower panel. Blood pooled from the deep wound down her thin calve, absorbing into her white ankle-sock and turning it a deep red within seconds. She snarled, dark hair thrashing as she cursed their inhumanity. These people survive on 5 cents a can! How greedy are you people?

The government never listens to the people it oppresses. But she wasn’t oppressed. She was a student at Fresno State studying Criminal Justice in her 3rd year. She was barely old enough to drink and vindicated enough to fight for a marginalized group of people she’d been raised to shy away from. The earned her limp that day and the scar the sliced through both lips and smiled independently on the rare occasions when she laughed. But mostly she only stared into the distance, fixated on the battle she’d chosen to fight. Her aluminum armor chest plate glinting in both the rising and setting sun as she waited. She’d commissioned it from their first self-proclaimed blacksmith only a week after she’d gotten out of the hospital after surgery and a week before he’d gone in too late and died of pneumonia. She hadn’t cried when he’d died. Several of her the homeless friends died beside her in the first months before they took over the park.

Woodward Park has seven shelters that can harbor a rough estimate of 1,250 people, but those numbers refer to people who are accustomed to having their own space. The park was seldom frequented, nor maintained, in the late fall and early winter and it took several months before the surrounded areas realized the immense amounts of homeless squatters who had taken up shelter there. On New Year’s Eve their numbers were over 2,000, with more and more pouring in as midnight approached, drawn by the desire to start the New Year with hope for a better life. Some of the newcomers were not from the streets of Fresno. One man was rumored to have traveled from Alabama on foot and hitchhiking whenever someone was feeling generous enough to offer him a lift. Another claimed he had been a professor from a college up north, but no one knew where. They believed him though when he gathered them around the fire and lectured on social justice and the rights of men and women regardless of residency.

But the green-eyed woman knew his words wouldn’t matter when, inevitably, the government came. The news crews had come first, timidly as though they would be mugged, their cameras stolen to be pawned and their vans raided for half-eaten cartons of Pringles. But after the local stations surviving several interviews they received national news coverage. The professor who always wore a tattered tie and a plague doctor mask and had a habit of wheezing when he spoke became the face of the movement. But one involved was ever confused on who was the leader. So, when she limped through the encampment with her hair braided back and her aluminum sword piercing the sky they untied their dogs and followed.

She wove back and forth over the hills of the encampment, rallying her soldiers. No one asked what was going on, or where they were going, or if they were coming back. The dogs ran between the hordes and nudged the hands of people who were not their owners, stopping to gnaw on the scraps that were freely given. Occasionally a man would open a pack of cigarettes and pass it to his left. The pack would move down the line until the final cigarette was drawn and the empty pack was dropped to be trampled under hundreds of feet. Sometimes a person would not have lighter, but before they could ask one would be pressed into their hand. They lit their cigarette and pocketed the lighter. Neither expected it to be returned.

At the crest of the final hill in the west the woman turned to speak to her soldiers, but found that they required no rallying cry of battle. Their eyes shone with conviction even as their legs quivered beneath their aluminum plates. One man near the front, who looked barely of age, timidly lifted his sword. The woman threw back her head and thrust her sword up in response, a deep laugher rolling up from the pit of her stomach and reverberating across the hills.

Beyond the crest of the final hill and in the shutdown Yosemite Freeway below news crews’ cameras flashed safely behind an armed national guard. Broadcasting to America the haunting finality of her laugh, the arch of her carved smile and the haunting words of a voice, not her own, over the clinking of aluminum against metal shields.

Now, there are very fine people, very fine people, on both sides.

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llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I'm IN . Oh, and here's your 6 for attention.

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